Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Should I be buying Twitter followers?

As a stats freak, I am constantly examining sites that claim to tell me more about my social media efforts. For example, I follow a few sites devoted to analyzing my Twitter network and giving me more info on my network, who is following me, how many followers I am gaining, etc.

Most of these sites have an area where people can buy an 'ad' promoting them so people can follow them, similar to the one on the right. Twice now on different sites I have seen people that I know and am following, that have bought ads for themselves so that others will follow them.

Now personally, I would never do this, and what irks me about this is that in both cases, these are people that are acknowledged as being 'social media experts'. And these people regularly trumpet the value of social media as a way to authentically engage with people. And yes, they are often propped up for their large number of Twitter followers.

Which it appears, at least in part, they have bought.

And I don't want to mention who these people are, because I don't want the discussion to revolve around them, but rather what they are doing. As I said, I could never do this, and it feels inconsistent to me with their message that building networks authentically is what works.

But maybe I am off my rocker. Do I need to just accept that 'biggest number wins', and realize that I need to do whatever is necessary to inflate my number of followers/readers/friends in order to appear more 'credible'?

What do you think? How would you feel if someone that you viewed as a 'social media expert' had 'bought' half of their 50,000 Twitter followers? Would you be outraged, or would you think they were making smart use of the existing business environment? Is this just another sign that Twitter is all just a 'numbers game'?